Australian broadcaster ABC1 will move children’s programming to dedicated digital channels as the country completes its digital switchover, it was announced today.
From 2 February children’s programmes – including mainstay Play School, which has been broadcast on the ABC since 1966 and acquired shows including Peppa Pig (pictured) – will be transmitted on ABC3 and ABC4Kids. Subsequently, from 21 July educational programming currently airing on ABC1 will move to ABC3.
The pubcaster said that the change would allow ABC1 to offer a more comprehensive daytime schedule for adults, whilst simultaneously making it easier for parents to find age-appropriate content for their children.
Deirdre Brennan, ABC TV’s new head of children’s television (recently poached from her job as director of Television for BBC worldwide), said: “The uptake of digital TV has provided a unique opportunity to further strengthen our children’s destinations within the ABC TV portfolio.
“With fantastic programming that is now easier to find, ABC4Kids and ABC3 will continue to deliver entertaining and educational programs which preschoolers and school-aged children enjoy.”
Brendan Cahill, the recently-promoted head of programming for ABC1 and ABC2, added: “With digital switchover now complete we can take full advantage of the breadth of our channels to offer something for everyone during daytime.
“Kids will still get a full complement of programming on ABC4Kids and ABC3, whilst ABC1 will be providing general entertainment for our adult audiences and News 24 will broadcast rolling news coverage.”
ABC TV’s reshuffle follows a similar move by British pubcaster the BBC, which overhauled its schedules in 2012 to transfer children’s content to digital channels.
The corporation was later criticised for the decision by Teletubbies creator Anne Wood, who said that the practice “ghettoises children’s programmes.”
Joe Godwin, BBC Children’s director, responded by saying: “Our young viewers are our priority and the vast majority of children in the UK already tune in to CBeebies and CBBC to find their favourite BBC children’s programmes. Far from being a ‘cynical’ move, we’re just following where our audience has already gone.”